Friday, March 23, 2007

The Farewell

“Ich sehne mich, o Freund, an deiner Seite
Die Schönheit dieses Abends zu genießen.
Wo bleibst du? Du läßt mich lang allein!
Ich wandle auf und nieder mit meiner Laute
Auf Wegen, die vom weichen Grase schwellen.
(…) Wohin ich geh’? Ich geh’, ich wand’re in die Berge.
Ich suche Ruhe für mein einsam Herz.
Ich wandle nach der Heimat! Meiner Stätte.
(…) Still ist mein Herz und harret seiner Stunde!”

(“Der Abschied”, written by Wang Wei, translated by Hans Bethges, adapted by Gustav Mahler)

Last Sunday I gave my official farewell to São Paulo, the city I’ve lived in for the past two years. I decided I’d take the opportunity of my last public ritual here, Autumn Equinox, to do my thing: sing a song and tell a story. I wrote a story myself this time, an allegory of my current moment. In the story—which, modesty aside, ended up literally fabulous!—a storyteller falls in love with an enchanted prince from a far away kingdom, and to be with his beloved again he must accomplish tasks, face challenges and overcome fears. I also sung the ancient Irish lament ‘Suil a Grá’ while accompanying myself on my mini-harp. After the story was over, I picked up my fiddle to play a jig set I made up from two Irish dance tunes, ‘The Far Away Wedding’ and ‘Apples in Winter’, which I baptized as ‘Transequatorian Wedding Jig set’, alluding to the fact that what should be my Winter Solstice this calendar-year, will be Summer! But alas, the anxiety and the grandiose of the moment overwhelmed me, and despite wonderful encouragement shouts from the audience, my stiff neck and my shaking hand were not able to play the jigs.

(On Tuesday, however, I gathered a small group of friends in my flat to celebrate my 27th birthday, and I managed to play the jig set with no slips—ha!)

This morning, I morning paged extensively on the meaning of these past two years here in São Paulo, and all the marvels I experienced here. A powerful wave of gratitude took me over, as I acknowledged the unique opportunities I had to re-align myself, to gain financial, emotional and intellectual independence, to discover myself and thus discover the world with brand new eyes and in free spirit, to give meaning to my life the way I wanted. I thanked for the painful loneliness that in the beginning used to make me weep every night in the room I rented in a filthy hive, fraught with drug-dealers, prostitutes and more lonely souls. I thanked for the silence, the noise, the destitution, the deprivation, the workshops, the experimental classes, the recitals, the public rituals, the private conversations. And for all those blessings that nobody will ever take from me.

Now, for my last season under the Equator, I retreat. I sever the bonds that hold me back; bonds of fear, of attachment, of unfinished business. And as the Chinese poet singing to Mahler’s heavenly music, I bid farewell to the most beautiful part of my life, thank for the crops and the hardness as well, and in stillness, I must learn to wait for my heart’s hour.

I hope you all had a beautiful Equinox, wherever you are in relation to the Equator.

See the photos of my Farewell recital at